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It’s about that time of the summer when parents have to remind their kids that school will be starting again in about a month or you will likely be in for a rocky start of the new school year. Why? A condition called Summer Learning Loss occurs each summer when kids do not exercise their brains by engaging in some sort of academic endeavor for the summer months causing “shock” once they return to the classroom in the Fall. Homework battles, resistance to get up in the morning; bad moods ; and depressed grades for the first reporting period of the new school year are all symptoms of Summer Learning Loss ( SLL ).
The good news is that it’s not too late to get your kids to re-stimulate their neurons now before it’s too late. The bad news is that you the parent have to be the one who brings up the issue and your kids will not be happy with the news, or you. But, that’s our job as parents – looking ahead for our kids and also realizing that a little bit now will pay off a lot later and sometimes we have to take the hit, but, it’s worth it in the long run.
More good news. All you really have to do is get them to read. Reading is the single best preventative measure to avoid coming down with SLL. Sure, doing some review of last year’s curriculum or jumping ahead to some concepts for the upcoming year might even be better, but reading a book is the equivalent of a treadmill for a child’s mind. And, why not read together? Make reading a family affair – make the trip to the library or a bookstore and everyone gets a book to read. Take it to the next step and take 5 minutes at the end of the reading period and share what you learned with the rest of the family. If you do this subtly, your kids won’t even know that you have introduced school to them.
The statistics of the positive effects of summer learning on Fall school performance are impressive. It is also not surprising that the statistics on the level of self-esteem for kids who feel and are prepared for the new school year are also equally so. And, how about the statistics on lower parental stress when kids adapt to school sooner rather than later? I know you all know the answer to that one too. So, what are you waiting for? Crack that book.
Dr. Keith Kanner is a Licensed and Board Certified Clinical Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychologist and Psychoanalyst. In addition to a full-time private practice in Rancho Santa Fe, California, he is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of California San Diego where he teaches both human development and also trains medical students how to better understand and relate to their patients. He also serves as the Director of Clinical Counseling for La Jolla Country Day School in La Jolla, California, and is a Clinical Professor at The San Diego Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Dr. Kanner also sits on the National Board of Directors for Kids Korps USA, which is the largest organization in the country that teaches children and adolescents the importance of volunteering to help the community at large. As a father of three children, he is also a dedicated baseball, football, and soccer coach.